Archive for November 1st, 2009

Lemon-Cranberry-Walnut Scones


So I got an email last week from a 15 year old girl named Logan who wanted to start a food blog. She sounded sufficiently crazy, keen and well-versed in the ways of the blogosphere; a perfect candidate for her own online forum. (And hey, is that a photo of her with Paula Deen?) She called it Teen Culinarian– cute, don’t you think? And she’s already doling out some good advice. Her second post tackles cranberry, orange scones with pecans, which I rook as as good an excuse as any to bake scones on a Sunday morning. You know, not for my sake, but as a personal favour to a friend. You know how it is. Splitting them open and dragging them across the block of butter because all the knives were in the dishwasher – I only do that for people I really like.

Of course I had no oranges and was out of pecans, so lemon-walnut it was. When I add any sort of citrus zest to scones I like to add it along with the butter, which I typically blitz into the flour in a food processor (not necessary, but keeps the butter cold by virtue of not being touched by warm hands). When dough is sticky like this, I pat it out into a circle on a baking sheet, cut it into wedges and then gently pull them apart before baking – that way you don’t gum up your cookie cutter.

Lemon-Cranberry-Walnut Scones

2 cups all-purpose flour (or half all-purpose, half whole wheat)
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup butter, chilled
grated zest of a lemon
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup cold milk
a handful each of dried cranberries and chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 375F. In a large bowl (or in the bowl of a food processor), sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the butter and zest and pulse in the food processor or mix with a pastry blender, fork or your fingers until well blended with pieces no bigger than the size of a pea.

In a measuring cup, whisk together the milk, egg, and vanilla. Add to the flour/butter mixture and stir with a spatula until almost combined; add the cranberries and walnuts and stir just until you have a soft dough.

Pat out into a circle that is about 1″ thick on your baking sheet; if you like, brush the top with milk and/or sprinkle with coarse sugar. Cut with a biscuit cutter or cut into wedges with a knife and pull each one apart slightly to allow them room to bake. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until pale golden.

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Shaggy Monster Cookies and Ghost Cupcakes



In case you couldn’t tell, this is W as Spiderman as Frozone.

I’m a little bit bummed that W wanted to be Spiderman for Halloween, and that Mike gave in and dropped $30 on a costume, complete with ripply muscles, while I was away in Toronto. I kinda wanted to piecemeal together an ensemble for him, staying up late to figure out how to sew it (my friend’s 4 year old wanted to be a “bloody, squished caterpillar”) -although I probably wouldn’t have been able to afford scarring more digits by attempting to use the sewing machine. (By the way -it’s difficult to take your contacts out with two bandaged thumbs. If we had a hidden camera in the bathroom the past ten minutes would probably have made a good little comedy segment.)

I love Halloween. It likely has something to do with its proximity to my birthday, or the plethora of candy that comes with it. Or the fact that it falls squarely in my favourite season, and as soon as its over a) mini chocolate bars are 70% off, and b) it’s almost time to take a running start at Christmas. In recent years, we’ve been leaving for Christmas in November a few days after Halloween (we go this Thursday).

Because it fell on a Saturday we couldn’t rightly not have some sort of party. We decided to have a shadow puppet party, which mostly involves eating, and for entertainment we pulled a painting off the living room wall, pointed a flood light at it and made crazy things with our hands and bodies and whatever else we could find. Then we lit the pumpkins, left Mike with his strobe light, chainsaw and bloody apron to dole out candy, and went trick or treating. Lou dressed up as Superman (although clearly a dog) with the easy attachment of a cape to his collar.

W, let me tell you, is quite keen on this idea of ringing peoples’ doorbells and having them give you chocolate. He insisted on carrying his Easter basket, the one with the two sparkly hanging pink and teal eggs that look like nads, which filled up so fast we had to head back home after two blocks. (The corner store was handing out pop, and since W and his 6 year old cousin don’t get pop, they gave them bottles of water. You could see the expressions under their masks as they stared blankly at the ladies behind the counter – a counter covered with candy displays, mind you – not wanting to be impolite but internally going dude – are you serious? Water?? You’re giving us water? For Halloween? We get this stuff anytime we want at home for free you know! We said trick or TREAT! The bottle took up half of W’s basket space, which worked out just fine. And it was a good idea to rehydrate.)

I’m not sure what happened to dinner. We had meatballs – the kind in the grape jelly and chili sauce that my aunt used to make – and we force fed the kids some fruit. There were a few leftover ghost cupcakes, which I made by turning cupcakes upside down before icing them – which allows a completely new perspective on the cupcake shape you may be more than familiar with. Yesterday on BT I frosted mini cupcakes in such a fashion, then dunked them into green coconut (you make it green by tossing it with a few drops of food colouring – makes good grass and Christmas tree needles too) to make muppet-like monsters.

I also turned some of that Linzer cookie dough into dudes with gunshot wounds, oozing Nanking cherry jelly. How could I not have thought of this before? You bake gingerbread men, poke holes through half of them with a straw before you bake them, spread the reddest jelly you can find on the intact ones, and top with the cookies with holes – the jelly oozes through and looks like blood. You can make bleeding heart cookies this way too.

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